Research-for-Cure Academy

Joseph Fokam

Nationality: Cameroon
Institution: CIRCB: Chantal BIYA International Reference Centre for research on the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS
Country of work: Cameroon

What is your motivation for engaging in HIV cure and remission research?

As a Virologist, I am involved into research on HIV-1 drug resistance for improved patient management. Though sequencing helps in selecting active antiretrovirals for achieving viral suppression, patients still stand at risks of developing drug resistant variants due to lifelong use of current antiretrovirals. This major limitation of antiretroviral therapy calls for innovative approaches toward HIV (functional) cure. Thus, in partnership with peers targeting HIV latency (i.e. “Shock and Kill” theory, etc), developing strategies that will successfully control viral reservoirs of diverse HIV strains circulating in countries like Cameroon (HIV epicenter) might substantially contribute in mitigating this global AIDS challenge.

What is your current area of research?

I am currently dedicated to research on circulating and archived mutations associated with HIV drug resistance in the polymerase (protease, reverse transcriptase and integrase) and in gag genes of HIV-1, viral tropism, HIV-1 genetic diversity among drug-naïve and treatment-experienced patients. Focusing on non-B HIV-1 subtypes, our interest entails evaluating: (a) transmitted or pre-treatment drug resistance and its effects on initial antiretroviral therapy; (b) acquired HIV drug resistance and its adequacy with second- and third-line antiretroviral regimens; (c) the clinical relevance of HIV-clade dispersal on therapeutic response and the viral replicative fitness; and (d) novel HIV-1 mutations associated with treatment failure.